The 2019 NFL Draft came and went for the Philadelphia Eagles. As they bring in five new rookies, not one of them happens to be a safety.
Well, the Philadelphia Eagles sure shocked a lot of people with their selections this season. After raving about the defensive line class being ‘historical,’ the Birds ended up taking a guy in the fourth round, instead of the first two like many expected. And unlike every other offseason, the Eagles finally decided to listen to the fans, and take a running back with one of their highest picks.
This year, the Eagles didn’t have too many immediate needs, but the positions that they could use somebody for this season, they seemed to avoid with one of their priority picks. The Eagles’ biggest needs lie on defense. Without a surefire starter at inside linebacker, many believe that Philly needed to find Jordan Hicks’ replacement. Sure enough, they didn’t draft a single linebacker.
Also, the safety position seemed to be a highlighted need as well. With Malcolm Jenkins being 30-years-old, and Rodney McLeod coming off of a season-ending injury heading into a contract year, the position’s future seems a bit uncertain. 2019 would’ve been the perfect year to select a top safety to insert into the rotation to gain some early experience, but the Eagles didn’t go there.
Are they doomed without a rookie safety? I wouldn’t go that far. However, their decision to neglect the position doesn’t mean there wasn’t anybody available that they didn’t like. It could actually mean that one of their own could be moving back for a permanent position change soon.
Who gets to move back?
The public consensus pick to move back to safety would be Jalen Mills, but it’s time to face the facts – that’s not going to happen. As long as Mills is in Philly under defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, he’s going to get his reps at cornerback on the outside. Similar to what we saw last season, there’s a good chance that second-year veteran cornerback Avonte Maddox could be looking at a permanent position change, and it won’t be in the nickel or outside.
Maddox had his moments over his rookie season. He played everywhere in the secondary including slot cornerback, outside cornerback, and even safety when McLeod went down. Although Maddox played his best ball at outside corner, he’s proven to be serviceable no matter where he goes. The Eagles just need to find a permanent spot for him to develop in 2019.
As many believed the Eagles were going to find a versatile safety in the 2019 NFL Draft to act as Malcolm Jenkins potential successor, maybe we didn’t realize all along that the team could potentially view Maddox as that guy. Right now, the Eagles are stable in the defensive backfield with Jenkins, McLeod, and Andrew Sendejo, but beyond this year, two of those guys could be out.
At cornerback, the Eagles have Ronald Darby betting on himself, Mills trying to earn a new contract, Sidney Jones trying to prove himself, while Cre’Von LeBlanc and Rasul Douglas continue to fight for minutes. While Maddox is one of the better options at cornerback, the position seems too crowded right now. Maybe a move back for him wouldn’t be a bad idea this year if that’s what the Eagles’ long-term plans are going to be. Regardless of who they choose to move back though, there’s a good chance that neglecting a safety through the draft could affect one of the current corners.